In early September I met a man at Chik-fil-A.
I had taken three boys school-clothes shopping and we stopped at the restaurant to refuel and assess our progress. The place was packed. I remember that I had to direct one particular child two or even three times to take the tray from the table to the garbage, knowing full well that his sudden desire to wash his hands (of all things) was nothing more than a lame attempt at getting out of a little work. My re-direction was loud, seeing as how he headed to the bathroom and then continued heading toward the bathroom until he realized that a) I was serious, and b) trouble was about to rain down on his little world.
As I exhaled slowly and walked through the restaurant, probably rolling my eyes, a lone diner stopped me with an outstretched hand and asked politely if I was a single mom. When I tipped my head sideways, he quickly explained that as he had admired my chile\d-rearing style it struck him that I was either a single mom or a military wife.
I am who I am, so I pulled up a chair. We chatted for just a few minutes (although if you're under the age of 18, you would have said it was hours), and I learned that he had recently placed his wife of 40-some-odd years in a nursing home because her Alzheimer's had advanced to the point where he could no longer care for her at home. It took all of ten seconds to realize that this man was guilt-wracked, and lonely.
I did what any of my mother's daughters would do and invited him to our Labor Day barbecue, where he ate home-cooked food, chatted with my lovely neighbors, and took home enough leftovers to get him through several solitary meals, each of which he reported joyfully via email.
School started the day after that barbecue and life got nutty. Just today we finally managed to meet for lunch, back at Chik-fil-A. He treated, and I noticed that he didn't have to give the employee his order. I also noticed that the refill guy didn't ask what he'd been drinking..
I only had an hour, but during that time I employed the Talk Less, Listen More rule (no small feat for me). It was genius--we all need to be heard--and I'm thrilled to say that I am the proud recipient of his love story. I'm also a little bit in awe (okay, so I'm a lot in awe) of how God will use me when I'm willing to be used.